Vesuvianite Resurgent

May 1999

Gemstones & Pearls:News

Vesuvianite Resurgent

Away from the gem scene for a while, lime green vesuvianite makes a comeback

Not prevalent in jewelry stores in the recent past, vesuvianite is suddenly appearing in lines by custom jewelers and manufacturers. The vagaries of fashion and its sudden appetite for lime and apple green is causing vesuvianite to gather steam, says Michael Randall of Gem Reflections, San Anselmo, CA.

Perhaps its alternate name, idocrase, sparks a gemological memory of this rare gem. George Frederick Kunz, the eminent gemologist at Tiffany & Co. at the turn of the century, liked neither name and suggested a third one, "Californite" (it was discovered in 1905 by prospectors looking for gold in California). The name was used briefly but never stuck. Today's jewelry stores invariably use vesuvianite as the name of choice.

This gem, whose color has been compared to the custard in a slice of Key lime pie, is a calcium aluminum silicate. The color is caused by chromium. It also resembles jade, but the two should not be compared. Vesuvianite's composition is closer to hydrogrossular garnet and may contain garnet. (The name idocrase actually means "form" and "mixture" in Greek.) Vesuvianite is 6.5-7 on the Mohs hardness scale.

The gem is available mostly in cabochon shapes. Wholesale prices are in the $10-20 range per carat.

  • Gem Reflections, San Anselmo, CA; (800) 453-4367, fax (415) 454-5933.

Vesuvianite is coming back, thanks in part to the popularity of lime green. Gem courtesy of Gem Reflections, San Anselmo, CA.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.




Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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